Authors: Kourtney King
The decision on whether to go
or stay was an easy one. Valerie belonged with him. He wasn’t happy about the
pregnancy and her decision to see it through. Nonetheless, having a piece of
her that he would now share with her children, children he strongly suspected
were Keyaan’s, was better than not having her at all. Maybe Dr Sibiya could
convince her that she was making a mistake if she wasn’t willing to listen to
Valerie was already making
plans on where she would stay if she had to move out. She could alternate
between crashing at Macy’s, Natasha's and Toni's until she found a place. She
needed to save money, and that meant she would need to find a job while she was
still able to work. School would have to be pushed back until the kids were old
enough to be left alone with a babysitter. There was so much to do she wasn’t
sure how she would manage.
“I will support you. Always. I
may not be happy about this, but I won’t leave you when you need me the most.”
The declaration broke her
out of the panic that was slowly wrapping itself around her. She was positive
that this revelation would have been what finally tore them apart. She walked
around the kitchen island and wrapped her arms around him. "Thank you. I
wasn't sure what I was going to do if you left. I know this is going to be hard
on you, and I wasn't expecting you to stay after everything that's happened.
I'm glad I was wrong. "
“I would do anything for you,
Valerie,” he told her as he held her. He would never voluntarily leave her side
regardless of what lay ahead of them.
Valerie was still not convinced
that Vladimir had accepted her decision to keep the babies based on the little
remarks he made. They made her doubt her decision and brought out her
insecurities over their mending relationship. Dr Khanyi had also brought up the
psychological consequences of keeping the children fathered by her rapist. She
understood Valerie's religious and emotional reasons for carrying the pregnancy
to term and had even suggested counselling her if she decided to give them up
At the end of the session, Val
felt more confused than ever with more questions than answers. Vlad had been
supportive of her throughout her earlier stages of therapy, but on this subject
his stance was clear. She needed to talk to someone who knew her, someone
without a vested interest, who would allow her to use them as a sounding board.
She picked up her phone and
called Macy who always seemed to have an answer to everything. Heaven help her,
she needed answers now more than ever.
“Hey Val,” said Macy.
“Hi, are you at home?”
I am. Just give me a minute,” Valerie heard rattling in the
background before Macy came back on the line. “I’m back, just needed to put my
stuff down. What’s up?”
“I’m outside your apartment.”
Macy walked over to the door
and found her friend waiting outside. Val must have gotten there a few minutes
after she arrived. "Are you okay?” she asked with worry peppering her
“Yes, I just needed someone to
talk to. May I come in?"
“Of course,” she moved back to
let her in.
They walked into the kitchen, and
Macy pulled down two wine glasses and a bottle of Lyric from the fridge.
“I can’t drink.”
“Why not?” Macy asked
suspiciously. Valerie had never been one to turn down a glass of dry white.
“Well… I’m pregnant.”
Macy put the bottle on the
counter before she dropped it. “How? When did this happen?”
“About two months ago. That’s
actually why I'm here. I don't know what to do. Should I keep it or you know…
have an abortion?”
“Val, you’ve been going to
counselling. Your therapist knows your case better than I do. I think you
should bring this up in your next session. Regardless of what choice you make,
neither of those options are easy.”
"She may know my case, but
Macy switched on the kettle to
make her unexpected guest a cup of tea and then poured herself a glass of wine.
She drank half of it, paused to look at Valerie and drank the other half. “Who
is the father?”
“I don’t know.”
“Does Vladimir know?”
“And how does he feel about
“He wants me to terminate.”
“What if it’s his?”
“He doesn’t want them."
Val noted the confused look on Macy's face and clarified. "I'm having
twins and he's not interested in being a father."
"Well, I'm going to be
blunt with you here. At the end of the day, the decision is yours to make. I
wasn't a fan of the guy before and right now I think he's a pile of shit,
sorry-not-sorry. If you feel pressured to have the abortion because of him,
knowing how important your faith is to you, I'm going to suggest you leave his rich
and fine ass. There are far too many good guys out there that would snap you up
in a heartbeat. It's your body, and he can't dictate what you do with it. He
should not influence your decision in any way. If he does then you may wake up
one day and regret it," said Macy, thinking about how fucked up her last
relationship had been.
Macy's words struck a chord.
Her current apprehension on making a solid decision stemmed from how Vlad felt
about the situation. She didn't want to lose him, or go through the same roller
coaster of emotions, if he decided to walk away again. Nonetheless, she
couldn't imagine putting anyone, even the man she loved, over and above the
lives growing inside of her. "Okay, can you sit with me? I'm about to tell
Macy whistled. “Mama Val is
going to have a cacophony when you tell her.”
Thembi Thusi was getting
comfortable on the couch of her box-sized apartment after completing an
eighteen-hour-long shift at the hospital. Her cell phone rang, and when she
looked at the screen, Valerie's new number popped up. "Sometimes I think
that my daughter has forgotten I even exist," she said is mock sadness.
"Hello to you too
mama," said Val in reply. Her mother had been on her case since the
disappearing act a couple of months back. Thembi wasn't aware of the truth, and
she planned to keep it that way.
"How are you, my favourite
She doubted she would be her
mother's favourite anything after breaking the news. "I'm your only child
“Can’t I pretend that God gave
me Macy, Toni and Natasha as well?”
"Yes, you can. Mama, I
have something to tell you. Are you sitting down?"
Thembi did not like the sound
of things. “
Yes, you can talk
Valerie took a deep breath.
"I'm pregnant, and I'm
"I heard you, Valerie. I
just didn't want to believe my ears; I'd even hoped that my line was crossed
with another caller, and they were the ones telling me that they're
“I’m sorry to disappoint you…”
Thembi heard her daughter's throat
catch on the other end of the line. She wasn't happy about the situation, but
it sounded like Valerie wasn't taking the news well either. She put aside her
feelings and focused on what was going on with Val.
“Don’t worry about me. How are
you? Are there any complications?”
“I’m okay, and I don't think
Her mother was a nurse by
profession which meant that Val grew up listening to the horror stories that
came from a woman who treated the sick day in and day out. The last thing she
needed was a rundown of what not to do to avoid this or that.
“What does the father have to
“Things are complicated,”
replied Val, not sure of how to broach that subject with her mother yet.
When Valerie hadn’t called Thembi
in over a month, she should have known that something was wrong. She wasn't
sure what was going on back at home, and she knew she wouldn't get any answers
on the other side of the globe. "I'm not scheduled for leave for another
month, but I can fly down in a few days, and we can talk.”
"You don't need to do
that." Valerie didn't want to stress her overworked mother and she still
hadn't told her about the rape. She didn't plan to if she could help it.
"I'll be fine for another month until you get here, I promise."
“You will call me every day,
“I love you. Take care of
“I love you too.”
Hanging up the phone, Thembi
shook her head. She should have trusted her instincts when all she had gotten
were text messages. Whenever she tried to reach Valerie through one of her
friends, they had told her she had just left, or that they hadn't seen her that
day. It was strange considering how inseparable they were, especially Valerie
and Natasha. Even though her daughter said she was fine, she was hiding
something. Thembi had raised her daughter to be safe and by the sound of things,
the man who had gotten her daughter pregnant was either not in the picture or
didn’t plan on taking any responsibility.
She couldn’t risk taking the
time off when she was up for a visa renewal the following year. She loved being
a nurse in Dubai; the hospitals were sufficiently staffed, there was never a
shortage of supplies, she got more time off than she had ever gotten in South
Africa and the pay was great. She would monitor the situation as closely as she
could from seven thousand miles away. If anything seemed out of the ordinary,
then screw the job; her baby needed her now more than ever.
Breaking the news two more
times to Natasha and Toni and going through the same questions of who the
father was, whether she planned to keep it and what Vladimir’s thoughts were,
it became apparently clear that everyone held a level of disdain for the man
she was madly in love with.
It was easier to think of the
twins as solely hers. There was no father. She was both nervous and scared.
Even though she wanted to be excited about rearing children of her own, the
happy picture in her mind comprised of two loving parents, not one. Val didn't
know that that day would come so soon and under the current circumstances.
To make matters worse, Macy had
taken hen pecking to a whole new level. She was either on the phone with her or
at the house every day. Vlad had learnt to make himself scarce when she was
around. The tension between those two was thick and uncomfortable.
After hearing from Vladimir in
his own, blunt words that he didn’t want Valerie to carry to term, even if they
were his, Macy had given up trying to see what it was that had her friend so
disillusioned with the man. As far as she was concerned, he was detrimental to
Val's wellbeing, a friend she often thought of as a naïve kid sister.
Trying and failing to highlight
the pitfalls of their relationship, which included the adverse effect on her
and the children having a grudging parental figure, she was left frustrated and
annoyed. Yes, he was a good looking and had mad money, but there was a darker
side to him that Vlad hid well. Had Valerie noticed it or was she blissfully
Macy had thought of using part
of her savings to purchase Valerie a one-way ticket to Dubai. If she couldn't
get through to her, then surely her mother could. That plan was shot to shit
when she remembered the extent of Vladimir's resources. He had managed to find
her in the middle of the desert without the help of the authorities. She
doubted he would have any problem finding her in one of the most well-renowned
cities in the world. Another option would be to tell her mother everything,
including the rape she had endured and the part her boyfriend had played in it,
but that would betray her friend's confidence. No matter how dire the situation
was, she couldn't violate the trust their friendship was built upon.
In the end, she settled for
keeping a close watch on her friend and the psychopath she was currently living
with. She could smell the bullshit he emitted and vowed to expose him for what
he was. She knew men like Vladimir; she had dated one for two years, and it was
only a matter of time before he snapped. She may have been stupid and blind
back then, but she was much wiser now.
A week ago Vlad had found out
that his girlfriend was pregnant. He hadn't changed his mind about wanting
children of his own, and he definitely didn't want them if they belonged to
another man, especially one as vile as Keyaan. It seemed that his thoughts on
the matter were of no significance. Val was adamant about keeping them.
They were at an impasse which
caused a strain on their already taxed relationship. He didn't want to lose
her, but his stance had been clear and remained unchanged. Whatever it was that
Valerie's friends and doctor were saying seemed to be reinforcing the idea that
everything was going to be okay when he knew better. She would regret it, and
he would be the one left to pick up the pieces.
Right now he was desperate.
After thinking long and hard about what he could do to bridge their recent gap,
Vlad came up with a new plan. They could relocate, move to a different country
as he had originally planned when he rescued her from her kidnapper. Knowing
his angel, she most likely wouldn't agree and would convincingly tell him why
they should stay where they were. He needed to think of a way to strengthen
their relationship. The question was what? The answer hit him, and he put it
into action. He just needed to convince her that this was what was best for
The following morning when she
came down for breakfast, he had already prepared her a plate of toast, bacon,
eggs and beans. He sat them down on the dining room table along with a cup of
"Thank you," she said
as she took her seat. "We're starving."
He ground his teeth at the term
"we" she had recently adopted. It felt as if she were constantly
reminding him of the devil's spawn she was carrying. No, he couldn’t risk losing
her after everything they had overcome these past few months. There was only
one option left, and he was about to present it to her. He prayed that she
agreed. Sitting down next to her, Vlad turned to face her.
Valerie was ravenous this
morning. Food had never tasted so wonderful. She could feel Vlad staring at her
and hoped that whatever he had to say would not cause another argument in their
tension-filled relationship. She put her knife and fork down and gave him her
attention. "What is it?"
“Will you marry me?” Vlad
Val was stunned. Was he
serious? On cue, he pulled out a red, Cartier box, opened it to reveal a
five-carat, solitaire diamond set on a platinum band and placed it on the table
next to her. She was in love with him, had told him as much numerous times and
had yet to hear it said back. She knew he cared about her, but they had never
quite discussed marriage.
Only recently had they spoken
of children after finding out that she was pregnant. She had always seen
herself as a mother where he had not thought of having a family or extending
one; there was already a conflict of ideals between the two of them. She
couldn't enter a marriage that was doomed to failure based on how things had
progressed thus far.
“No, Vlad. I can’t,” she said.
There were very few scenarios
that had not worked out according to Vladimir’s plans, and this was one of
them. Actually, when it came to Valerie, nothing worked out how he wanted it
to. He shouldn't have been surprised at this point. The only thing that was
surprising was how crushed he felt after she turned down his proposal. Was it
already too late? Did she no longer believe in their relationship anymore? Had
everyone in her life poisoned her against him?
“Why not?” he asked. “I thought
you loved me.” That last part came out in a much harsher tone than he had
intended, but he was past caring.
"That's just it Vlad. I
love you, but I have no idea if you feel the same way about me. You’ve never
said it. And then there are the twins to consider. I can’t raise them in a home
where their father figure can barely tolerate them. Unless, you’re proposing
because you’ve had a change of heart?”
How many times were they going
to have this discussion? She knew exactly how he felt and why. "I haven't
changed my mind about
," he said pointing at her stomach.
"You are too kind-hearted to live with the evidence of what that man did
to you. Don't you remember those first few weeks after you came back? I thought
you would kill yourself, and now you want to relive that every day for the rest
of your life? God, the woman you’re seeing, is an absolute idiot if she hasn't
said this. I don't need a doctorate to tell you about the consequences of going
through with this pregnancy.
“You mean everything to me. I
would die for you. If anything ever happened to you, I wouldn’t have a reason
to live. I may be a lot of things, but I would never hurt a child. I won’t lie
to you and say that I’m happy with your delusional, altruistic decision to keep
them. You know my past and the fact that I’ve never had the typical family.
However, I am willing to try to be a better husband than my adoptive
father. You are my sole focus, Valerie. I will always put you first, above
everything and everyone else.”
His words moved her to tears.
In part because she believed everything he said and knew that he was utterly
devoted to her and in part because she had also read between the lines. He
loved her but not her children. He would be a husband to her but not a father
to them. She couldn't put her own needs above the innocent lives that bore no
fault in this mess. She pushed her chair back and stood up to leave before
things became ugly. "I'm sorry Vlad, but I can't marry you."
Vladimir picked up the box and
threw it against the wall before storming out of the dining room. It was yet
another tough decision that Val had to make. Her feelings were no longer
relevant. She had to focus on what really mattered - the twins.
Valerie was still rooted to the
spot, replaying the botched proposal when she heard the front door slam closed.
She had hurt him, and now he was gone. Had she made the right choice or had she
finally chased him away?
walked over to the ring that lay on the floor and picked it up. If he had
proposed before finding out about her pregnancy, then she would have said yes
without hesitation. He was doing this out of fear.
The sparkling gem was
beautiful. Valerie knew she shouldn't do it, she would only regret her decision
even more than she already did, but she couldn't help it. She slipped it onto
her finger, and it was a perfect fit.
Vladimir walked down to the
office in his basement. He needed to calm down because right now all he could
see was red. Had Valerie been brainwashed? He just couldn't understand her
reasoning. He'd laid himself bare only to be rejected. Vlad stripped out of his
clothing and changed into a pair of running shoes, workout pants and a t-shirt.
He needed to get out of this house before he said or did anything he would
Jogging down the trail that led
to the beach, Vladimir broke out into a sprint once he hit the sand. He ran at
full speed until his heart was pumping at maximum capacity. If it gave out, he
didn't care. Nothing mattered anymore. It was too late. He was too late - as
usual. Valerie may claim to love him, but she loved Keyaan’s legacy even more.
His breathing was laboured, the muscles in his thighs and calves burned, and
his chest tightened from the exertion.
Why had he thought that he
could keep her? She was right to say no. He would only bring her more pain and
suffering. As much as he tried to justify it, the rejection from Valerie ate at
him like a live animal tearing him to shreds from the inside out.
His body could no longer endure
the stress he put it under. His quads contracted painfully, and he dropped to
his knees in the sand panting heavily. His eyes watered at the thought of her
leaving him. He couldn’t contain the tortured emotions that raged within him.
He screamed in anguish, pouring the loss of his soulmate to the raging winds
that blew around him.
The beach was deserted, and no
one heard him. He was alone, he would always be alone. For a brief moment in
time, he thought that had changed, but he was wrong.
He wished he could cut his
heart out, the heart that seemed to yearn for Valerie even when he wished it
wouldn’t. This was his punishment for all the blood he'd shed without remorse.
Women like her were not meant for men like him. He had fought valiantly to
change the hands of fate and lost. He had to admit defeat and move on before he
lost his mind.
After Vlad’s departure, Valerie
had gone back to bed. Her mind was torn between his proposal and her children.
She should have never put the ring on because right now, she was having a hard
time taking it off. Would she ever be able to find another man that would rival
his adoration and devotion to her? He may not accept her children, but he said
he would never harm them. That should count for something, right? Just thinking
about living without him when they had both worked so hard to stay together
over the past two months sent her into a tailspin.
She twisted the ring around her
finger as she thought about the decision she had made. The least she could do
was try to salvage their relationship. She pictured herself as his wife, and
they fit. In a strange, dysfunctional way, they complemented each other.
Valerie wanted this; she wanted to be with Vladimir as his wife.
The man her thoughts had been
on trudged back into the bedroom. He didn't take note of her lying on the bed. The
thin shirt was covered with sweat spots on his wide back and front. She
surmised that he had gone out for a run.
“Vlad,” she called out. He
didn’t reply and went into the bathroom to take a shower.
She got out of bed and followed
him in. Placing her small hand on his bicep to get his attention after he'd
taken his shirt off she said, “Yes, I’ll marry you.”
Vladimir was not ready to see
Valerie. He should have known that she was in their bedroom and used one of the
showers downstairs. It didn't matter. He was already here, and he was not about
to cower away from the mere sight of her. She said she'd marry him, but he
didn't take note of it. She had initially said no, and he'd stormed out. Val
was probably backpedalling on her decision because he was upset and she wanted
to smooth things over. She didn't mean it.
He looked at her in the
bathroom mirror, and that's when he saw it. Her hand bore his ring. She had
agreed to be his wife.
He turned around and took her
hand in his. "This is the only opportunity I'm going to give you to walk
away. If you marry me, you're not going anywhere - no matter what."
"Yes, I'll marry
you," she repeated.
He kissing her newly
adorned hand and closed his eyes. He needed a moment to let it sink in. This
was really happening. They were going to get married. She would be his wife.
She would be his forever.
"If you'll still have us,
I want to be your wife Vlad," she said.
Of course, he would still have
her. He'd rather have a piece of her over nothing at all. He opened his crystal
blue eyes and stared into her almost black irises. "Then let’s get
married.” He didn’t want to give her time to change her mind. “Today,” he
“Weddings don’t happen in a day
Vlad. I need time to plan.”
“All we need is you and me. We can
go to the courthouse and have it done in under an hour. Everything has always
been complicated between us. Let's make this, us, simple.”
This is not how Valerie had
envisioned her wedding day. She wanted her family and friends around her on the
big day. Looking into Vlad's eyes, she saw the sincerity in his words. He just
wanted her to be his, without the fanfare. In truth nothing that had happened
in her life recently had gone according to plan, but she was learning to ride
the waves as they came.
“Okay, let’s get married
She would wear the white silk
pants and the beige top he had bought for her on the first weekend they’d met.
It was symbolic; a testament to how far they’d come from the first time they’d
met. When she told her children and grandchildren about her wedding day, once
they were old enough to hear the story in its entirety that is, it would be a
great tale of their turbulent love affair.
Natasha was having a lazy
Sunday with Mandla over at her apartment. They were watching her all-time
favourite movie - My Best Friend’s Wedding. She sang along to every song and
Mandla groaned in frustration. He loved his girl, but someone needed to tell
her that she couldn’t hold a note. Unfortunately, he didn't have the heart to
be that person so he steeled himself to her high pitched screeches and hoped he
didn't burst an eardrum. The phone rang which cut her off. Thank God, he
Natasha’s face went from jovial
to concerned with the duration of the call. "Okay, I'll be there,"
she said before she hung up.
“What’s wrong?” he asked
picking up on her change in mood.
"That was Valerie. She's
getting married, and she wants me to be her maid of honour.”
“Isn’t that good news?” he
"It would be if she wasn't
marrying that asshole, Vladimir."